Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Reflection: "I thirst."

"I thirst."

For what does He thirst?  Water?

When He met the Samaritan woman at the well, He asked her for a drink of water.  She was stunned by the request, for Jews and Samaritans were enemies.  For a Jew, let alone a Jewish man, to speak to a Samaritan, especially a Samaritan woman, was incredible.  It truly was an event people would not believe.

What brought them together?  Thirst, that most basic human need, stronger even than hunger.  They both came to the well for the same purpose, to satisfy a fundamental need.  But Jesus perceived that the woman had a need even more fundamental than thirst: love.  She had been in a succession of relationships that she thought would bring her love, but they did not.  Jesus promises to give her the Living Water so that she will never thirst again.  He tells her that He is the Messiah.  She is so overwhelmed by the encounter that she returns to her village and tells everyone about Him.  Why?  What affected her so very strongly?

His love.  He asked her for water, but in so doing He was really giving her His love.  That is the secret of Christianity: Christ asks us to give Him everything to satisfy His thirst, but He does not leave us empty.  Rather, He fills us with His love, giving us back what we offered Him a thousandfold.  He fills us to bursting with His love, to the point where the Living Water is like a fire in our bones, and we must share what we have been given with others.

On the cross He tells us that He is thirsting so that we will offer Him something.  Through the opening created by that offering He will pour out Himself.  Even if the opening is so tiny that only a drop of His love can slip through, it is enough.  The smallest part of His love contains the fullness of His passion.  Even a drop of it can transform us into springs of Living Water.

But He longs to give us so much more!  He wishes to inundate, to inebriate, to drown us in His love and then raise us to new life.  The more we offer to Him, the greater the opening we give Him, the more of Himself He can give to us.  The sooner we can be transformed into springs of Living Water the better, for the world is thirsting.

Yet, we can remain closed to Him.  We can stand at the cross and offer Him nothing.  And, though He longs to give us everything, we can refuse.  We can remain utterly dry.

Likewise, we can offer Him wine mixed with gall.  We can turn to Him insincerely, not because we truly desire Him, but because we want to please a friend or family member, keep up appearances, or just because everyone else seems to be doing it.  We will go through the motions of offering Him something, but, in reality, we will have given Him nothing.  Just as he rejected the wine mixed with gall, so to will He reject empty gestures and vain words.

But, if there is even one shred of sincerity in our offering, even one drop of water in our hands, He will accept it.  He will take what we give to Him, and His love will come upon us in a torrent.

And there is yet more.  He will ask us to tell Him what we thirst for, what we most need.  He invites us, even from the cross, to offer Him our desires.  He knows we thirst, too, and He longs to satisfy the longing within us.  Perhaps that is what most satisfies Him, to give us that which will most satisfy us.

He is thirsting, and so are we.  Shall we keep everything to ourselves, or shall we give Him to drink?

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